Iraq Death Toll Tops 700 In February

Sectarian clashes continue across the country as death toll escalates

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Iraqi Shiite mourners carry the coffin of a soldier killed the previous day in the city of Diyala during his funeral procession in the shrine city of Najaf, in central Iraq, on February 19, 2014.

A bloody February in Iraq led to at least 700 civilian deaths in the course of the month, as the violent Sunni-Shiite clashes that have worsened since the withdrawal of U.S. forces continued unabated.

The United Nations confirmed 700 deaths throughout the country, with most of the killing concentrated around Baghdad and Salahuddin province to the north. A total of 1,381 people were injured, Reuters reports.

An additional 300 deaths were reported in violence between security forces and Sunni Muslim rebels in Anbar, but the U.N. was unable to confirm the deaths because of turmoil in the region. In December, Prime Minister Nuri Maliki ordered an offensive in western Anbar province to counter increasing Sunni militant authority, and those clashes have led to ongoing violence.

Sunni-Shiite violence in the country has receded from its 2006-2007 peaks, but it remains endemic in the divided democracy.